A Kentucky Pastor is battling to have five snakes returned to his church. The reptiles were taken from the man earlier this year by Tennessee authorities during a traffic stop.
The snakes are used in worship services at the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name Church, located in Middlesboro, Kentucky. Now Pastor Gregory Coots, known as Jamie, wants Tennessee to return them.
An article by WYMT News writes that Coots traveled to Alabama on January 31 to buy the reptiles. He purchased five snakes for $800 and began his return trip.
On his way back to Kentucky, Pastor Coots was pulled over by Knoxville police for a traffic violation. Once the officer became aware of the snakes inside the vehicle, the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency was called to the scene.
According to Pastor Coots:
“He wanted to know if I had any documentation and I told him no. He came back a few minutes later and said he was going to take the snakes and containers.”
WLEX News writes that the snakes, identified as three rattlesnakes and two copperheads, were confiscated and never returned. Now kept in a Tennessee zoo, the pastor is fighting to have them returned.
Meanwhile, Coots has been charged with illegal possession of wildlife and illegal transportation of wildlife through Tennessee. It’s a charge that doesn’t make sense to the pastor:
“When you bought snakes in a state where it’s legal to buy them and bring them to a state where it’s legal to have them, I don’t see how they can stop you and take them away. If I can find a way to bypass Tennessee, I won’t go through it no more because I’m not gonna stop buying snakes.”
According to the Kentucky pastor, there has only been one death attributed to snakes used at his church.